James Murren
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McGurk Meadow and Tioga Sequoia Batch 2000

More and more beer companies are making special brews to support regional non-profits and events. This year Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company  made two beers in partnership with one of ASJ’s favorite non-profits and events — Yosemite Facelift.  What better place to earn the Batch 2000  brew than Dewey Point in Yosemite National Park.

The Earning

Hiking Dewey Point

Within the first ten minutes of hiking down the trail to McGurk Meadow, I saw a running coyote put on the brakes, stirring up dust as s/he turned tail and scampered back up the trail before turning into the forest. I walked a couple of steps and spotted three coyotes, all thick with winter’s-approaching fur. Such a site, along with chattering bird songs, had me stepping with pep. 

At the meadow, my first time there, I paused and took it in, the golden grasses, the evergreens, the blue sky all merging in a Yosemite dream. A few small fishes lazily fluttered about in their water world below the little wooden foot bridge.  Nip was still in the air, though the yips from the coyotes earlier on were already long gone.

I turned left at the first trail junction, Dewey Point being my destination. A few late springs ago, I snowshoed to the point from Badger Pass Ski Area via the Ridge Trail. My memory of the view from the trail’s end had me wanting to get back to see it again, with a little less sweat on my brow. 

Through the forest I went, poling and stepping my way up and down the landscape, crossing over a few streams along the way. No other humans were on the trail. Autumn was putting on her magic show, leaves bedecked in yellows and golds, as well as a few cloaks of deep russets, fall’s seasonal reds and almost purples made for a kaleidoscope infused journey. 

Dewey Point, Earn Your Beer

It was not much longer before the trail turned from deep forest to more like a Sierra ridge top trail, where decomposed granite was the surface and the sight lines opened up to where I could see the Sierra Nevada mountains march north and south across the way. Dewey Point was up ahead; I saw only three people there.

There are many grand views in Yosemite, I thought. Dewey Point, with the effort required to get there, keeps the throngs of people away. I decided in that moment in time … in that space … there could not have been a “better” experience for understanding the definition of grandeur. A sense of stillness nearly blocked out the breeziness of the air.

I put my trekking poles down to snap some photos, which immediately led me to think of my Uncle Joe because I was using his poles — ones that he bought while training to walk the Camino de Santiago. Sadly, that trip never came to be due to physical challenges that someone in their late 70s/early 80s might face in their life. I turned to my fellow hikers and asked if they would snap a quick photo of me so that I could send it to Uncle Joe.

They did. I smiled. 

A bit peculiar, isn’t it, how out there in that seeming wildness, I zapped a photo across the stars and into a phone, eliciting more smiles.



The  Beer  

TIOGA Sequoia Brewing 

A few weeks after the annual clean-up event, the little grocery store in Curry Village still had cans of Facelift beers brewed by Fresno’s Tioga Sequoia Brewing Company for this year’s Yosemite Facelift. I carried a can of Batch 2000, a 5.5% ABV Hazy Pale Ale, to Dewey Point. The can, adorned with beautiful artwork by Rhiannon Klee, enjoyed the ride from inside an OR winter water bottle parka that was sitting in the bottom of my pack.

With El Capitan as a backdrop one way and a long vista of Half Dome and the High Sierra the other way, and after a brisk 4-mile hike to the point, the beer tasted like golden impossible dreams were wrapped in pineapple and citrus orchestral notes of gratitude and thanks. A trumpet shot of pine pierced the palate out of nowhere, putting me in a balanced state of mind.

I savored every sip.